It’s been 57 years since Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. It was during those tumultuous times that Dr. King declared “we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt”.
Today, with the worldwide protests calling out such widespread injustice, we can’t turn a blind eye. It is increasingly clear that we’re facing not one, but two pandemics — COVID-19 as well as the systemic racism that continues across America.
After George Floyd’s horrific murder under the knees of the police; after Ahmaud Arbery was assassinated while jogging through a south Georgia neighborhood; after Breonna Taylor was shot while lying in bed; after Christian Cooper had the cops called on him while bird watching in Central Park; and so many others — our nation is at a point of reckoning. These men and women were brutally treated simply because of the color of their skin. This needs to change.
Black lives matter and we can’t say it often enough.
We need to acknowledge the hurt and pain and racial disparities that so many people are experiencing. Each of us needs to look in the mirror and commit to being part of the change, helping to tear down the fabric of systemic racism.
As a nonprofit organization and as individuals we’re committed to doing some honest self-reflection, starting with some important questions. Are we doing everything we can to ensure our programs are welcoming to people who are Black (and Latino and Asian and others)? Are we doing everything possible to ensure that the people developing our programs and participating in our programs reflect the diversity of the communities we’re serving?
These are difficult questions, but we all need to do our part. Even during the darkest days of the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. King implored us to come together and march ahead. “Their destiny is tied up with our destiny,” he said, “and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.” His words are just as true today.
We can’t achieve our conservation mission without inclusiveness and equity, so we are committed to having the tough conversations and to keep improving so we can help turn Dr. King’s dream of freedom and justice into reality. Our lives are intertwined on this surprisingly small planet.